As many businesses start bringing workers back to offices, one of the biggest unanswered questions is what will happen to air travel as economies begin the recovery process. It’s a question that may remain unanswered for some time. While driving to work and following safety protocols in the office is one thing, going to a crowded airport and sitting for hours in a confined space with hundreds of other passengers is entirely different.
If the past few weeks are any indication, there will likely be two schools of thought around air travel – perhaps three. As states have started their re-opening phases, there are clearly two distinct groups of people, judging from their behavior, which likely will impact their willingness to resume air travel.
There will be those who jump back into normal activities and won’t hesitate to book flights – just like all those who have flocked to public areas, some without masks. It’s easy to imagine a number of people with previously booked vacations to fall into this group.
There’s the opposite group, who have maintained a self-imposed lockdown state, opting for the more calculated approach. Maybe they’ve ventured out to a few additional stores for necessary items, or have a few close friends over in the back yard, but otherwise sticking to lockdown practices, but for the most part, they’ve kept to lockdown protocols.
There’s will also likely be a third group of business travelers, who may not be as open to personal travel, but will ultimately determine they need to get out on the road to visit clients – especially in light of the past few months.
But even frequent travelers are concerned – particularly about conditions on planes, themselves, more than at airports. It probably makes sense. While it may extend certain wait times in areas of airports, they can follow the example of other businesses to implement distancing measures. In fact, they can even implement scheduled check-in times to spread people throughout terminals and security checkpoints.
The confined spaces of airplane cabins are a different story.
More than half of the respondents to a Honeywell survey said air quality is a top concern, and 60% say cleanliness validation through technology is the best way to induce confidence that it’s safe to travel.
That’s why the many companies that are developing technologies to cleanse public spaces – like terminals, elevators, airplane cabins, rail cars, and more – are going to be on the front lines of truly re-opening the economy. Without the confidence that public spaces and high-touch surfaces are being effectively disinfected, it’s going to be hard to convince people they should book their business trips and vacations.
From UV-C lights that can disinfect elevators, plane and train cabins, and other areas, to touchless temperature monitoring, travelers are going to need an even higher level of assurance they are not putting themselves and their families at risk by getting on an airplane or, for that matter, into any densely populated confined space. Barring a vaccine, these kinds of technologies are going to be an absolute must-have.